Gian Gomeshi Verdict: Plenty of Guilty Parties.

Modified by Designfeed

Modified by Designfeed

All over the Canadian news on Thursday: the verdict in the Gian Gomeshi sexual assault trial. Everyone, including the complainants, already knew he would be found not guilty. As the judge was careful to point out in his detailed, hour-and-a-half judgement, it wasn’t that anyone doubted the incidents took place. But the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the events were non-consensual. Due to mistakes made by the witnesses, they did not prove this.

So what happened? A media circus. The moment the charges were announced, the whole anti-violence, anti-bullying, feminist, anti-male, liberal media gang jumped on the bandwagon and began tooting their horns. So they have to take their share of the responsibility for the schemozzle as well.

Not that they didn’t have good reason. Violence against women has a real poster boy, here. It’s just that the complainants got caught up in the rush. I doubt if a normal person in a normal frame of mind would maintain his or her perspective under such a deluge of emotion. Now consider an unsupported woman dealing with an emotional event like sexual assault. What do we expect? Well, that’s what we got.

So what happened to these women? Well, immediately after the attack they probably reacted as many people do to such a mind-boggling event. They would feel puzzled, afraid, and unjustly guilty. Unfortunately, the only person who could give them any indication of where they had gone wrong is the abuser himself. So it is no wonder that they reached out to him in the ensuing months, either to prove to themselves that they could handle the situation, or to prove to him that they weren’t afraid, or any of a hundred muddled reasons that we all go through in moments of emotional crisis.

Once the charges were laid they got swept up in the media, online, and political frenzy. They began to see themselves as the heroes of the day. Which meant that they had too much stake in the outcome of the trial. So they stopped telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, in case some of their actions were misconstrued. And the defence attorney caught them out, put the worst slant on those actions and pulled them all apart on the witness stand.

In the end the judge had to agree that their credibility was doubtful, so their testimony was suspect. So, as he was very careful to point out, he had no choice but to declare the accused had not been convicted beyond a reasonable doubt.

Such is our legal system. We would rather let nine guilty people go free in order that one innocent person might not be convicted unjustly. This is nice if you’re an innocent person, but the guilty ones play on that point with glee.

Good Outcomes from this Trial?

Well, everyone seemed to agree that there has been progress in the legal system towards treating sexual abuse complainants fairly. There were none of the old stereotypical questions asked, like length of dress or amount of lipstick worn. There was no hostility or negativity directed at them from the police or prosecutors.

No, the fault in this case came to some degree from the witnesses themselves, and for the most part from their “supporters” who turned the whole scene into a political and emotional quagmire. In fact, we may have the first situation of this sort where the outpouring of inappropriate emotion was from the supporters of the victims, not the supporters of the accused, as has usually happened in the past. By my count, the Twitter on the night of the vertict was 10 to 1 in favour of the victims.

What Good Could Come of This?

In the first place, I hope that the next time such a high profile case comes up there are cooler heads on the scene from the first, guiding the victims in their actions, preparing them for the temptation to fall in with the agendas of their supporters.

In the second place, I would hope that crown councils will now be better prepared to take into account the Stockholm-syndrome-like behaviour of victims. Some day perhaps we’ll even reach the stage where our laws recognize that it is completely normal for a victim, especially of date-rape and other situations with known abusers, to react in illogical ways towards the attacker.

Picture the Scene

The victim is making her statement to the crown attorney. Attorney gets to the inevitable point where she says, “…and you haven’t had any contact with him since, have you?” (Ever notice how supposedly intelligent people like doctors and first aid attendants often ask a negative question, pushing the responder towards the response they want?) At then the victim, who up till this point never questioned her actions, suddenly realizes that maybe she shouldn’t have done this or that. She doesn’t want to disappoint the nice lady who is guiding her so helpfully, so she says, “No, no, of course I didn’t.” And the die is cast. The lie has been told, and it’s all downhill from there.

And one thing every witness for the prosecution must understand, and many don’t; the prosecutors may treat you with sympathy and kindness, but they are not there to be your friends. They have a job to do, and you are their chief tool. If you mess them around, they cannot help you. Nor do they want to. In fact, if you make them look like fools, they probably don’t feel quite so kindly towards you anymore.

The bottom line is that, even with the progress we have made, a complainant in a sexual abuse case is on trial as well. Maybe instead of hiring a publicist, these women should have found their own lawyer.

If, in the future, the crown attorney could say, “If you did contact him, the law says that’s all right. It’s better to be truthful,” things might go very differently. Legislators, are you listening?

Trial by Media

For once, the kangaroo court of public opinion came up with the right verdict. Gomeshi used the clout provided by his public persona to bully everyone he came into contact with, notably women. Thus it is fair to try his media image in the media. The verdict there? Guilty without doubt. And while it’s his legal right not to take the stand, he’s a paid performer; on top of it all, the audience feels cheated. The Gian Gomeshi star has definitely imploded into a black hole; may it never return.

Stripped of his star status, he looks pretty pathetic. I mean, there’s an expression about people who get their jollies by beating up women, but when you discover someone who takes it literally…Yuck.

Best Result

As bullies often do, Gian has focused so much on winning the battle that he has lost the war. Maybe he got away with it this time, but now his sex life has been destroyed forever. It will be difficult for his pretend victims to see him as big and tough and mean any more. When the chips are down, he runs and hides behind a tigress of a lawyer. (The article where the picture above was first printed makes for interesting reading. <>)

Round Two

And in the next trial he goes up against a complainant he harassed in her workplace, where she is protected and advised by her union and her employer (who fired Gomeshi for his behaviour). The tigress had better re-sharpen her claws. She’s not going to find it so easy to protect her cub the next time around.


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